Beaches and Mud Baths

Tamara wakes me when we’ve arrived in Nha Trang. I don’t know how it’s possible but I always sleep like a rock on these buses! Everyone gets off, and I go get the driver to let him know we’ve lost the iPod touch in the abyss below our chairs. He gets a stick and tries to reach underneath, but can’t find anything. We know it’s down there, we saw it last night. Only the middle chair in a row of five is removable. The driver pulls it up to reveal far too many spiders and piles of garbage. Ignorance really is bliss. He also finds 70,000 dong which he hastily puts in his pocket.
When there’s still no sign of the phone and he seems to be getting eager to leave, I get down on my stomach in the aisle of the bus in hopes of getting a better view below the seats. My iPhone battery is dead, but oh how a flashlight would come in handy right now. It really seems like it’s gone, and just when it feels like we’ll have to give up, Tamara finds it beneath the other set of chairs in a back corner. Incredible! I can’t even imagine how awful it would have been if she’d lost it. Photos, music, travel info, online banking, everything gone. It’s a miracle that we found it. It’s also miraculous how infrequently these busses are cleaned. Have they ever been cleaned? How many spiders have built a home down there? Only one or two more sleepers to go….

We go in search of a dorm room that was suggested in my lonely planet book. $4 beds sound good to me! It’s relatively far from where we get dropped off, so we stop into a couple other guest houses along the way. I’m pretty happy to stay in a dorm so that we might meet more people, but when we come across a hotel with a private room for $4 each, it’s easy to settle there instead. There are pros and cons to dorms, but one of the main cons is the lack of space for your stuff. Our private room even has air con and an elevator to take us up to the 5th floor. Luxury.

I’m still feeling a little tired after our bus ride, and it’s only 6:30am, so we take a quick nap. By quick I mean four hours. At 10:30 we get our lives together and set out to find lunch and figure out what to do with our time in Nha Trang! It sounds like there’s lots to choose from.

Nha Trang is very different from Hoi An. For starters, it’s a big developed city. High rise hotels are abundant, and the streets are lined with night clubs, bars, and all sorts of restaurants. Hoi An was calm, historic, and modest. Another different thing about Nha Trang, is that everything is in Russian. I don’t know why, but apparently a lot of Russians flock to Nha Trang specifically for a beach holiday. To me, this is random. All the signs, restaurant menus, and even some hotel names, are written in Russian. There’s almost always an English translation, too, though.

Lunch is nothing special just some stir fried vegetables and plain rice because it’s cheap.
We then head towards the beach. It’s a gorgeous sunny day, waves are rolling in but the water is clean and clear. We drop our stuff in the sand and dive into the cool salty water. Ahhhh how refreshing and fantastic this is. A perfect beach day. Some people are out kite surfing, but there isn’t a boat in sight. That’s my kinda beach.

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We spend some time in the water and then in the sand, but I can tell the sun is a danger here. I’ve already seen SPF 90 sunscreen readily available in multiple shops, an abundance of burnt individuals walking around, and some overly sensitive individuals swimming in t-shirts and sun hats. I don’t want to risk it, so I only spend a short time in the sun before retreating to the shade of a tree. I find that when I’m separated from Tamara, the hawking becomes more intense. I am approached by far too many people as I’m minding my own business and catching up on my writing. It’s like a solo person is a magnet. Out of the corner of my eye I can see them B-line their way over to me, and are very insistent even when I blatantly, and perhaps a little rudely, tell them I don’t want to buy anything. There’s nothing you can ever say that will convince me that I need to buy a plastic bracelet. It’s annoying to say the least but I am still in Asia, after all.

For the afternoon, we catch a bus to one of the most awesome sounding things in Nha Trang; the mud baths.
For an entry fee of just 120,000 dong ($6) we can access the mud spa for as long as we want. For $6, I’m not really sure what to expect but upon entering the spa I realize we’ve come to a great place. They do a good job of keeping everything relatively rustic and natural looking, instead of trying to make it some fancy/tacky draw for tourists. We find the baths and hand over our tickets, which allow us entry to a communal bath. We could have paid more for our own, but what backpacker can afford that? We share one tub with three Vietnamese people, one local and two visiting from Ho Chi Minh City. They’re hilarious and one of them in particular has a waterproof phone, turns on some American pop music, and sings along to the lyrics as we lounge around in the bath. I cover myself in mud, hair, face, and everything. It’s a clean kinda dirty. I don’t really know exactly what the mud is supposed to do, but I’m sure it can’t hurt!

After 20 minutes we get out, shower, and move to the next stage, which is a walk through hot water jets. It’s supposed to be good for blood circulation, I believe. After that, we get to enter yet another hot bath, but no mud this time. Just steamy clear mineral water. Our Vietnamese pals make princess laya hats out of their towels. I love them.
It starts to rain, and it’s funny to watch people run indoors because….ummm we’re already wet. Silly humans.

The last stop is a hot mineral waterfall and chlorinated pool. I stand under the waterfall for a nice back massage, but skip the pool because I’ve just treated my hair to some nice natural minerals, I don’t need to damage it now with chlorine. The bus only comes every hour to pick us up and we’ve just missed the 4:30, so we sit in shaded beach chairs and hang around waiting for the 5:30. My skin feels so soft and my hair is silky after the baths! $6 spa day.

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When we get back to Nha Trang centre we stay at the hotel for a while before seeking dinner. It is here that Tamara and I both discover that we’re burnt, even despite all my effort to stay out of the sun. It’s concentrated on my shoulders and upper torso, so my guess is that it happened during the 10 minutes I spent in the water at the beach. Damn.

We walk along the beach front looking for cheap food, and stumble upon a place with a seafood curry and naan bread for 70,000 dong ($3.50). Okay, so it’s not exactly cheap, but we get naan bread!
The curry comes without rice, and the thinnest looking naan bread I’ve ever seen. It’s a little disappointing but I don’t know why I do this to myself every time!! Never expect good international food. Ever. Always stick to local. What was I thinking?

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It’s Saturday night in a touristy beach town, yet nothing seems to be going on. This seems extra strange, but it’s a windy and rainy night, so maybe that’s why? We check out a couple bars, but only stay for one or two drinks before going home. We’ve got an early morning boat cruise tomorrow anyway!

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